Another tip for you bloggers out there. If people read your site via its RSS feed they are going to be coming to your archive pages and not your main page. Often there is a completely different template for the two and the archive pages may not have some important stuff.
First you have to remember your goal is to get people to read your blog. Preferably on a regular basis. My goal is to get them to subscribe to my RSS feed because that means they will read my site. For you it may mean they blogroll you to prove how wonderful you are to them. Either way the outcome is a regular read.
ASIDE: OK maybe that isn’t your goal. I met a guy once who didn’t have comments enabled on his blog because he didn’t want anyone to use them. He didn’t really want anyone to read his blog – he considered it private. And he got pissed when you emailed him. At least he got pissed at me. Oh and this guy wrote blogging software.
So to accomplish this goal, when people come to a single item you need to lead them to other items. There is one must have. You have to have a prominent link to your home/main page. Savvy users, if they don’t see something in big bold letters marked HOME or MAIN, will click on your logo at the top of the page, so make sure it is a link. Even if you put a discrete or even – to you – obvious link to the main page in a side bar or something.
Once they read one post, if they like it, they will want to read more by and about you. At least this is what I do, most people will not subscribe to your site based on reading one thing. So they are going to go read your main page and get the last few posts. Maybe you’ll hit them with something interesting and that will be all it takes. But let’s look at a scenario that will teach us something.
Say you post on a bunch of different topics like I do. Everything from beautiful women to motorcycles to politics. Now say someone comes to your site because of a link about motorcycles. But this is the first post in a couple of weeks you’ve made on that subject. Obviously you need to make it easy for them to find other motorcycle links.
So what do we learn from this class?
Make sure your category list is easy to find. It needs to be near the top of the page. Remember a user may never scroll their browser down while looking at your site. The screen real-estate at the top of the page is the most valuable. Use it wisely.
Given this usability analysis I’ve realized there is one thing my blog is missing on archive pages. A list of recent posts. It seems a little silly to have a list of recent posts on the main page because you can just see them, but on an archive page it leads people to other relevant posts. I’m going to add this in the next few days once I find or write a Nucleus plugin for it.
As I think about making my blog better and more user friendly I’ll post more in this series. Remember my post on about me’s. As the recent chicks of the blogosphere thing proves, people want to know more about the person doing the talking.